American Astronomical Society warns about unsafe eclipse glasses and handheld viewers

Observers urged to purchase glasses and hand-held viewers from known reliable sources.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Aug 02, 2017
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has issued a statement noting that unsafe eclipse glasses are being sold online in advance of the August 21 solar eclipse that will be visible across the country.

While the group previously advised buyers to look for glasses with the logo of the International Organization for Standardization, along with text stating they meet ISO 12312-2 international safety standards for solar viewing, they now acknowledge that both the logo and the text are being placed on glasses that are fake.

Fake glasses as well as fake handheld solar viewers look like the real ones but have filters that do not adequately block enough of the Sun's visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light to protect viewers' eyes.

Some merchants go as far as displaying phony test results on their websites to back up their claims of complying with ISO standards, the AAS statement warns.

To help observers avoid buying fakes, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is complying a list of reliable vendors, which is posted on its Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters and Viewers page.

One sign that glasses or handheld viewers are fake is the ability to see ordinary lights when wearing them. Only the Sun should be visible with these devices, and it should appear focused and comfortably bright like the full Moon, with a surrounding black sky.

If glasses or viewers show the surrounding sky as hazy and the Sun as too bright or out of focus, they are not safe and should be discarded.

Glasses and viewers distributed by amateur or professional astronomers, libraries, astronomy clubs, university astronomy departments, science museums, trade shows, and planetariums are almost certainly safe, as these individuals and groups obtain solar filters from known and trusted sources.

A guideline on viewing the eclipse safely is available for viewing athttps://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety.

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